Final Day of Fast Company Innovation Festival 

Hello friends,

On the final day of the festival, the celebrity / creative genius theme continued with Lin-Manuel Miranda (the genius behind the hit musical Hamilton) on the main stage. 


The beauty about being in New York is that I'd seen Hamilton only a few nights earlier. I was already familiar with the musical's soundtrack but seeing it on stage made it very clear that the hero of the show isn't one big song or one stand out performance, it's the brilliance of the writing. You walk away from the show marvelling at the mind of Lin-Manuel. 

So seeing him in the flesh a few days later...I had no chill whatsoever.  

The session covered two themes, community and writing. 

Lin-Manuel was on stage with his corporate partner, American Express being represented by their Chief Marketing Officer Elizabeth Rutledge. Both were being interviewed by Fast Company Editor and Chief Stephanie Mehta. 

Lin-Manuel is the American Express ambassador for the Small Business Saturday's program. 
His first hit musical, In the Heights, is about supporting small business and the community around you. 
He had been an AMEX customer since 1996 and he loved their  Small Business Saturday's program. Lin-Manuel was offered lots of different partnerships but they didn’t make sense. His wife joked that he didn’t even own a car when he was asked to do a car commercial.
American Express has a history of using cool creative people like Seinfeld, Tina Fey and Martin Scorsese so Lin-Manuel was also happy to be part of that club.
He was happy that partnership means partnership. When Lin-Manuel was working with Puerto Rico after a natural disaster, American Express helped him with funding. 


  • Elizabeth talked about word of mouth is alive and well and it’s the oldest form of storytelling and relies on community. She said their referral program is growing 35% year on year but it means they need to continue to give their customers something to talk about.
  • They spoke about how small businesses might have a challenge in the next few years as the economy turns. They spoke about how important the grassroots efforts are. American Express have champions in every community helping share the message.
    67 cents of every dollar stays in the local community. 
  • Lin-Manuel said he knows there is an appetite for people to gather somewhere and give people a space for the community. That's how he wrote both his musicals, at his musical theatre communities book store. 
  • Lin-Manuel talked about the difference between neighbourhood and community, creating a community is more than a geographical area. It’s feeling connected to people and bonding over values and a shared mission or idea.
  • He spoke about the community he’s created on Twitter with creative people. He spoke about checking in on the people that follow him and the people he loves rather than looking at the bigger “dumpster fire” that is Twitter.  
On writing: 
  • Lin-Manuel said when he’s feeling writer's block he gets out of his own way. 
  • Don’t worry about being in the right place and the right time and the right headspace. Just keep writing.
  • He also says working with other people helps too, listening to what they are saying and not having any ego about your idea or what you’ve created. Listen to the people you’re working with. 
That's a wrap from #FCfestival 2019. 

If you want more information on anything I've mentioned get in touch and I can give you more detailed notes and some handouts from certain sessions.  

See you on Monday! 
Copyright © 2019 Character, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp